Airbus Takes Flight with Hydrogen! ZEROe Test Engine Powers Up for Greener Skies
airbus hydrogen cell

Airbus has ignited the future of aviation with the successful power-on of its first hydrogen fuel-cell engine, a pivotal step towards zero-emission flight by 2035. This achievement marks a significant milestone in the company’s ambitious ZEROe program, paving the way for cleaner, more sustainable air travel.

The “iron pod,” containing the hydrogen fuel cell system, cooling units, and electric motors, roared to life late last year, generating 1.2 megawatts of power. This remarkable feat represents a critical breakthrough, validating the fundamental architecture and design principles destined for the final aircraft.

“It was a huge moment,” declares ZEROe head of testing and demonstration Mathias Andriamisaina. “The success confirms that we’re on the right track, with the core technology ready to scale for future flight testing.”

The next challenge? Integrating the system into an Airbus A380. Scheduled for 2026, ground and eventually flight tests will push the technology to its limits, gathering crucial data for further optimization.

But why hydrogen?

Airbus explains that existing fuel cells lacked the necessary power-to-weight ratio for aviation. To overcome this hurdle, they established Aerostack, a joint venture dedicated to developing high-performance hydrogen fuel cell stacks specifically for aircraft.

“This achievement wouldn’t be possible without significant advancements in fuel cell technology,” remarks the airframer. “Aerostack’s innovative stacks provide the power needed to propel large aircraft while maintaining efficiency and weight requirements.”

The journey doesn’t stop there. Throughout 2024, rigorous testing will continue, focusing on optimizing the system’s size and weight for real-world flight conditions.

“Every test brings us closer to realizing our vision of zero-emission flight,” says ZEROe head of fuel-cell propulsion Hauke Peer-Luedders. “By simulating various flight phases, we gain invaluable insights into the system’s performance, ensuring its effectiveness and safety.”

This groundbreaking development holds immense potential for the future of aviation. With cleaner skies and reduced carbon emissions on the horizon, Airbus’ ZEROe program is poised to revolutionize air travel, ushering in a new era of sustainable mobility.

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